By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tuukka Rask has finally broken his silence and addressed the incident that led to his exit from Toronto’s playoff bubble.
Speaking with the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy, Rask confirmed that his family was dealing with a medical emergency involving his daughter, and that his return to Boston was required.
“I got a phone call from my wife and my daughter was in a state that she needed medical attention and she wasn’t doing well,” Rask told Conroy. “At that point, I had no choice but to go home. It’s as simple as that. If you get a phone call wherever you are, like I did, it’s a pretty easy decision. What bothered me a little bit was people thinking that I just left because I didn’t like it there. I’m not going to lie to to you, [the bubble] was awful. But if I didn’t have a reason to leave, I wouldn’t have left, obviously.
“There’s that. But my daughter’s fine now, the family”s good, and it made me feel good. When I got home, they were happy to have me home and things got back to normal pretty quickly, so I knew that I made the right decision. It had nothing to do with hockey or the bubble. It was just the fact that I had to make that decision and I stand by it.”
Rask went on to tell Conroy that returning to Toronto would’ve come with a government-mandated 14-day quarantine for crossing the border after returning to the United States, and that it simply wasn’t an option given his daughter’s situation.
So when it comes to what happened in Toronto, Rask made the human choice of family over hockey.
It’s a completely understand choice to anybody who isn’t a complete psycho, and should be viewed separately from Rask’s obvious disinterest in what he described as an ‘awful’ bubble. They’re not remotely the same, and it’s straight-up gross to suggest that Rask and the Bruins are using his child as a pawn to avoid criticism. (It’s obvious that the Bruins wouldn’t sign off on that strategy, and Rask wasn’t afraid to tell you that he was on the toilet when the B’s had to fight for their playoff lives in 2016. Sorry to say, conspiracy theorists, I think we’re all well beyond the point of thinking they’re going to cover for him.)
The biggest misstep in all of this likely comes back to Don Sweeney’s first statement on the situation, which noted that there was not an emergency back home. It’s possible that Sweeney didn’t know the full extent of the situation, and it’s also possible, if not likely, that Sweeney didn’t feel like disclosing the details to the general public. I mean, he barely likes telling you if a player has a no-trade clause in his contract, so it’s not hard to imagine him telling you to buzz off if you ask about a sick child.
But speaking with Conroy, Rask, who has more one year left on his current contract, also noted that the Bruins are the only team he wants to play for, and that while rumors may swirl, he doesn’t want to be traded. Sweeney did his part to (seemingly) quiet the trade speculation, too, emphasizing the 33-year-old Rask’s importance to the club.
“As a matter of fact, our staff has communicated with Tuukka and, as I said before, he remains a big part of our roster planning going forward,” Sweeney said this past Monday. “I think by my knowledge, he was second in the Vezina balloting and we feel very, very comfortable with where our goaltending is at.”
Rask went 26-8-6 with a 2.12 goals against average and .928 save percentage in 41 games in 2019-20.